rodney mcleod

After missing last year's playoff run, Rodney McLeod savoring every moment

After missing last year's playoff run, Rodney McLeod savoring every moment

If there’s one lesson Rodney McLeod took from the ACL injury that ended his 2018 season early, it’s to never take any part of the game for granted. 

As McLeod gets ready for this playoff run, he’s savoring every moment. 

“Opportunities like this don’t come often,” McLeod said Thursday. “I feel like it took me a while to get to the playoffs and now I’m able to get back coming off the injury. Looking forward to it. Want to take full advantage of the opportunity and not take it for granted. Give it everything I got.”

McLeod, 29, didn’t get to the playoffs until his sixth season in the NFL. When he finally did, he was a big part of the run to Super Bowl LII. 

But last year, he tore his ACL in the third game of the season and was forced to watch the rest of the season, including the improbable playoff run to Chicago and New Orleans. 

It was the first serious injury of his career and it taught him something important. 

Any play, it can be taken away from you,” McLeod said. “It put things in perspective for me. I feel like I always play the game with a lot of passion and energy. At the end of the day, I think it does put things in perspective.”

Coming off his ACL tear, McLeod has been playing at a high level this season. Not only has he started all 16 games, he’s missed just two of 1,034 defensive snaps on the year. 

As the Eagles’ free safety, McLeod is a calming presence for a secondary that, for the second straight season, had been decimated by injury at the cornerback position. And having McLeod on the field allows Jim Schwartz to take advantage of Malcolm Jenkins’ versatility, playing him all over the field and sending him on more blitzes than last year. 

“He's such a consistent player for us and again, he just gives us such a sense of calm on the field because he's such a good communicator,” Schwartz said. “He’s certainly a valuable part of our team.”

This past offseason, McLeod agreed to restructure his contract, taking a pay cut to keep him in Philly for 2019. After this season, McLeod will become an unrestricted free agent. But it’s no surprise McLeod wanted to stay here; he’s invested a lot in this franchise. 

Even last year, when he was injured, he was still a huge part of the team. McLeod was in every meeting, at every game. He was a mentor, a sounding board and a hype man. It was McLeod who would pump up the defensive backs in the tunnel before every key game down the stretch. 

“I think just me being one of the leaders on this team, I felt like it was just part of my duty and role at that time,” McLeod said. “I wasn’t able to be out there with the team and contribute. But what I could do was motivate some guys, encourage some dudes and shed a little light. I felt like that was my role last year and that’s what I did to help these guys out.”

That support throughout last season was meaningful to his teammates, especially Avonte Maddox. Then a rookie, Maddox filled in for McLeod for a good portion of the season as a free safety. 

Maddox said it meant a lot to have McLeod guiding him through a new position through every turn last season. 

But how much does it mean to have McLeod back on the field this year? 

“A lot more,” Maddox said with a smile. 

It means an awful lot to McLeod too. And he’s going to enjoy every minute of it. 

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Eagles’ defenders have seen those moves from Boston Scott before

Eagles’ defenders have seen those moves from Boston Scott before

There were plenty of people surprised about Boston Scott’s breakout performance on Monday night against the Giants. 

Eagles defenders were not among them. 

After a year of trying to stop Scott in practice, they were aware of just how dangerous the 5-foot-6 running back can be. They weren’t even surprised about this devastating juke move Scott put on veteran corner Janoris Jenkins in the fourth quarter. 

Heck, it’s even happened to Rodney McLeod before. 

“Yeah,” McLeod said with a laugh. “Well, I don’t know about that bad. I gotta talk to Jenk about that one. But, yeah, he’s given me a move in the open field. He has a good change of direction ability and quick burst. Glad to see him making plays for us.”

In the 23-17 overtime win, Scott finished with 10 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown and added six catches for 69 yards.   

His 128 yards from scrimmage are the most ever in a game for the Eagles from a guy formerly on their practice squad. 

Scott finally got a chance to shine in a game, but he’s been shining in practice for a while now. Eagles defenders seemed happy that this time it was against Jenkins and the Giants.  

“He does that to us,” Nate Gerry said. “He’s done that for the last year.” 

Scott was a sixth-round pick by New Orleans out of Louisiana Tech last year. He arrived to Philadelphia last December after the Eagles signed him off the Saints’ practice squad. He spent the remainder of last year on the roster, but didn’t really get a chance to play. 

This offseason, Scott had a good training camp but Darren Sproles returned, which basically bumped him to the practice squad. He stayed there until Oct. 11 and didn’t really get a chance to play much until Monday night. 

But Scott was impressive all summer and even earlier this year in practice. 

“He definitely has that switch,” linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “He has that burst that’s a little bit different from others. You definitely saw that on the field, that they weren’t expecting because they didn’t know who he was. But he was definitely a big factor.”

Earlier this week, head coach Doug Pederson said Eagles will find a role for Scott in the offense going forward. With four games left, Scott might be able to make an impact. 

Based on the reactions in the locker room since Scott’s breakout performance, he seems to be a favorite of his teammates. Scott is the prototypical hard-worker, gets in early, leaves late, just needed a chance. He finally got it and made the most of it. 

“It wasn’t a surprise for me at all,” McLeod said. “I’m just really glad he got his opportunity to get out there and showcase what he can do.”

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Dolphins turned Eagles' defense into bumbling fools

Dolphins turned Eagles' defense into bumbling fools

MIAMI —  It’s hard to imagine a more embarrassing way to lose than getting lit up by one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

It can't happen. It did happen.

The Dolphins and their 37-year-old journeyman quarterback scored their most points in four years, piled up more than 400 yards, scored touchdowns on five straight drives and basically made the Eagles’ defense look like a bunch of bumbling fools.

After four straight decent games, four straight holding an opponent to 17 or fewer points, the Eagles’ defense collapsed Sunday, allowing a 2-9 Dolphins team averaging 14.2 points per game on offense to nearly triple that in a 37-31 win at Hard Rock Stadium (see observations).

Pathetic. Embarrassing. Horrifying. Inexcusable.

Pick your adjective.

The Eagles led 28-14 early in the third quarter. And lost 37-31.

Take a look at the Dolphins’ drive chart after their first three drives netted six yards and no points.

And keep in mind this is a team that had scored 18 touchdowns all year before Sunday:

6 plays, 84 yards, TD
13 plays, 75 yards, TD
6 plays, 75 yards, TD
6 plays, 61 yards, TD
9 plays, 96 yards, TD
13 plays, 55 yards, FG

The worst offense in the NFL scored on six straight drives against the Eagles.

The Dolphins had 10 touchdown drives of at least 60 yards all year.

They had five in a row Sunday.

Mind-boggling.

“It’s just disappointing,” Rodney McLeod said. “It’s frustrating. You let a game like this get away from you. You’ve got to show up each and every Sunday, regardless of a team’s record. We came out, energy, had an interception first play, and I think we played a solid first half of ball. But second half, we came out and just let our guard slip a little bit.”

 A little bit?

The Eagles went up 10-0 and thought they had the game won.

It was clear to anyone watching.

“Man, they just made some heck-of-a plays,” Brandon Graham said. “They won the game, man. That’s all I can really say. We gave them some penalties in there that extended some drives on defense, they made some big plays on us that we need to eliminate, too. We started off hot, we just didn’t finish the way we wanted to. That’s what sucked the most. We let another one slip. “

Everything went according to plan for those first three series. The defense got a turnover and some sacks, great pressure, solid coverage.

And then it all went wrong.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, who torched the Eagles as a Buccaneer last year, did it again, chucking jump ball after jump ball to DeVante Parker. 

The Eagles couldn’t stop it. 

The Dolphins average 265 yards per game. They had 409.

They had scored just 51 second-half points all year. They scored 23.

They hadn’t scored more than 35 points since 2015. They scored 37.

Parker was averaging 63 receiving yards per game. He had 159.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz doesn’t talk after games. 

But there’s not much anybody can say about an absolutely brutal effort against a historically awful offense.

This is as bad as it gets.

“Have to stick together,” Nate Gerry said. “It is tough. Obviously, we took three L’s in a row. This upcoming week we’re going to find out what type of team we really are, we’re going to find out what type of players we are. Who wants to turn this thing around and who doesn’t.”

Even if every single one wants to turn it around, they just might not be good enough to do it.

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